Young City Trader who earns 1 million a year
The world’s top traders ages 30 or below are named today, with young guns picked up five of the coveted positions.
They represent the changing face of the modern City. None went to Oxbridge, some turn up to work in scruffy jeans and T-Shirts, and they all earn vast sums, making high-risk bets on the global markets every day.
Aggressive, sporty and workaholic, they regularly put in 15-hour days, trading across different time zones. They work for hedge funds and small, young trading outfits that most outside the rarefied world of big-stakes dealing will never have heard of.
Youngest of the Brits top traders is Lawrie Inman, a 25-year old from Camberley, Surrey, who graduated from Swansea University four years ago. He buys and sells the five-year German government bond market, known as the Bobl.
Last year he earned what he calls a ‘seven figure salary’ after performing spectacularly on the markets. In his two years’ trading the Bobl, his rise has been meteoric, and he now takes such big trading positions that for every one-point movement in the market he wins or loses £10,000.
He is perhaps best-known for guessing correctly the way the markets would move during a key speech made by European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet. He took a huge bet and made a £700,000 profit on that one trade.
‘This is the best job in the world,’ he said. ‘Its not the financial side of trading that gives you the buzz – it’s being proved right. Knowing you did the right thing and being vindicated for it.’
Football-playing Inman is a local trader, meaning he trades mostly with his own money. He works at the Marex financial trading firm, where he keeps 90% of the profits on his trades.
The City’s other big-hitters include Giles Macey. Maced is known by his peers of his ‘aggressive but disciplined’ approach in the predatory world of US government bond trading.
He left Anglia University, formerly Cambridge Poly, in 1999 and went straight into the aptly named Mako – complete with shark logo – where he has stayed ever since, regularly working from 6.45am to 8.30pm to catch trading in both Europe and what he calls ‘the bear pit’ of Chicago.
‘Some people lose the edge early on. A lot talk of burnout at and 40 is considered old’ Macey says.
He is coy about how much he earns but Trader Monthly senior editor Rich Blake said most on the list would be bagging annual bonuses of up to $5 million (£2.7 million).
The other London traders include ABN Amro carbon emissions trader Kelvin Milgate, Sigma Derivatives futures dealer Paul Redmond and Comac Capital’s Adam Grunfeld, a new Yorker who has settled in London to trade ‘anything where he sees an opportunity’.
I want him to be a DJ (having seen him perform in a Brixton club, I know he can do it). But what if he doesn’t – what then?
He’s not the sort to take a nice job in an accountants, bank or lawyers. Whenever I mention the City to him I’m greeted with snorts of derision and references to office drudgery and pinstripe suits. I wish he could meet Lawrie Inman – just in case.
At 25, Inman is a multi-millionaire. Named among the top 30 financial traders under 30 in the world he turns up for work in jeans and a T-shirt, so Harry would approve. He drives a Porsche 911, ‘because you can’t go wrong with a Porsche’, has just bought a great flat a short walk from his office, plays football on Saturday afternoons, goes out for beers with the lads and sees his girlfriend. Some days he makes ‘six figures’, and from just one trade, earlier this year, he pocketed £700,000.
What he isn’t is a City wide boy. Flashing the plastic in Petrus isn’t his style. Neither did he go to some exclusive school or university. If there’s a face of the modern City, it’s Lawrie Inman.
I caught up with him as he was just finishing his day at Marex Trading in Bishopsgate. In City speak he’s a ‘local’, screen trader. The firm employs about 200 people like Inman in London. Marex trains, helps and regulated them, and gives them a trading desk. They’re not paid salaries – they share their profits with Marex.
Inman’s speciality is buying and selling future contracts in the five-year German government bond – the Bobl. He’s speculating so much the movement of just one point in the market can make or lose him £10,000.
He has a brother, Mat, 23, who also trades the Bobl, at Elite Derivatives in London. Mat’s twin, Jack, currently studying, is likely to follow them.
The Inman grew up in Camberley, Surre. Their dad was a taxi driver; Lawrie went to the local comprehensive. ‘I did my GCSe and A-levels and went to Swansea University to do business studies,’ he says. He played soccer to a high standard – for the university and for a side in the Welsch League. ‘I’m not brilliant – I’m okay. But we won the national university football championship when I was there, so I suppose we weren’t too shabby.’
He speaks in a quiet, understated manner (he hates being in the top 30 list). He’s as much the boy-next door as it’s possible to be.
His parents moved to Spain and, after university, he joined them to think what he might do. As a child he read the newspapers his father brought home, looking at the financial pages – and imagining having all that money. In Spain, his father was involved in a betting business and he tooks bets for him. ‘That’s when my interest in trading began to grow- trading is a calculated bet.’
Mat, his brother, was also out there, ‘doing pretty well for himself’ trading futures with a proprietary company in Gibraltar: His mother saw a job advertisement for would-be traders for another Gibraltar firm, MacFutures. He went along for a chat and was taken on as a trainee (soon afterwards MacFutures was taken over by Refco, then Refco imploded and Marex was born from the mess).
He started at Marex in London in January 2004. ‘One of the training things they did was put us on a simulator to test us on different markets. Some markets move very quickly all the time and you’re always trading. They weren’t right for me. I found that the Bobl suited me best. It moves quickly but it’s not excessive. You’ve time to think – it’s not 100 miles per hour like some markets. Some pepole are quite excitable and they like marekts that move quicker more.’
In May 2004, he says, ‘I was let loose.’ It wasn’t as scary as it sounds. ‘People are watching you all the time. We’re very carefully regulated – we can’t do what Nick Leeson did.’
The next month, the president of the USA was due to go to Turkey when a small bomb exploded outside his hotel. Until it was found the explosion wasn’t part of a concerted assassination attempt, the markets went haywire. Inman made over £1000 that day by making the right call – ‘it was a big psychological barrier to go through so early on’
He works from 7am to 4.30pm – later, if there’s US news like a federal rates annoncement. He started out trading 15 ’round trips’ a day – marketspeak for the buying and selling of an options contracts and its subsequent closure. Now he does 25,000. He spends his time watching the bank of screens on his desk. He predicts Bobl price movements and, at the click of a mouse, aims to get ahead of them.
His finest hour to-date came this April while watching a TV speech by European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet. Early on he realised it would affect the markets. He went long on the Bobl – betting it would rise.
‘Central banks always talk in code to the markets – they use certain words to indicate whether they will hike rates or not. ‘Vigilance’ is one of them. If it’s not there, there’s a good change they won’t go up.’ Listending to Trichet, Inman realised that during his entire speech the bank chief hadn’t uttered the word vigilance once – ‘so I maxed out of my long position immediately.’
He took a huge bet. ‘I bought the market. Rates didn’t go up, the market spiked up, everyone was wanting to buy and I made £700,000.’ He’s had other good trades since. ‘I’ve had similar days with similar profits but they haven’t got out,’ he says. He’s lost as well. ‘Some days are good, when you can make over six figures; some days are bad.’
What does he do when he loses? ‘I’m not really one for drowning my sorrows. You’ve got to shut off and forget about it – if you don’t it will be on your mind the next time you trade’. Inman laughs. ‘I know, it sounds ridiculous tosay you’ve lost six figures and you’re chilling out, but you’ve got to, or you’d have a heart attack. You’ve just got to accept it.’
He loves the job. ‘I can’t imagine doing anything else. There are still some older people here – they’ve 28, 29.’ I gulp, he he carries on: I’m 25 – by the time I’m 30, if I wanted to retire, I could.’ He’s got no plans to do so. ‘All that interests me is what I’m doing. Every day is a new day. It’s so exciting – you just can’t beat it.’
He’s taken on a trainee. ‘I want to replicate what I’m doing, and so on. Eventually, I suppose, I will take a bit of a back seat. But I enjoyu waking up in the morning and coming to work. It can be horrible at time but I still look forward to it.’
In two yars, he’s made more money that others earn in their lifetime. He can do what he wants. ‘The money I have is saved because I couldn’t possibly spend it. When I’m trading well a massive amount of money is coming through every single day, so I have to save – I also have a substantial tax bill to save for.’
It’s worth stressing that he’s not arrogant with it. ‘I’m a 25-year old living the dream. I’m leading a life most 25-year olds would die for’.
Editorial Note: Inspiring on the one hand, but a dangerous approach for those new to the markets to try and emulate. Comments in the article like “maxing out” on his home run trade suggests that he risked rather more on it than the usual 1-5% routinely advised by experienced traders. Also, his use of words like “buzz” and “excitement” suggest that his heart beat may fluctuate a tad throughout the trading day, which, at $10K a point, isn’t surprising.